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The importance of mental relaxation

Happy New Year 2019

In a world where so much attention is placed on achieving goals, we are constantly busy doing and trying to accomplish a whole multitude of different tasks every day. As a result, we can often neglect the very basic needs of our highly worked, but incredible solution focused and more positive aspects of our brain.

For many of us we will see a good night’s sleep as the holy grail for a balanced life. New research carried out by the National Council for Social Research discovered that the most rested people scored 15pts higher on a happiness scale than those that struggled to get the sleep they felt they needed. It is estimated that as adults we need between 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. However all too often we don’t achieve that perfect night’s sleep and this can have a knock-on effect on our relationships and work productivity, as we end up feeling sluggish throughout our day.

So how can we help ourselves to overcome the problems that lead to a lack of sleep?

As a clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist, I am often asked ‘How can I relax?’ There are many ways to relax and unwind, relaxation is different for everyone. For some it’s finding a way to rest an over-worked body, but for others and more commonly among those people I encounter, is a need to rest an over-worked mind.

This may sound like a simple activity, but for those who are used to worrying about, well just about everything, it can be difficult to change habits that have formed in the brain over time.

This is where Hypnotherapy comes in as a useful and powerful tool to help ease and relieve our troubled minds. Hypnotherapy can restore balance to a potentially over-worked mind, allowing it to process the worries of the day, bring stillness and calm to the body and free up time to allow an individual to enter a deeper more restorative quality sleep during the night.

Today neuroscientists have identified four main types of brain activity that can be measured by an EEG device. These are outlined below.

Of these key brain wave states, the one that is identified as being associated with creativity is the awake and resting thought process. This is associated with activity in the pre-frontal cortex, and this is the area when logic and reasoning can present us with solutions to problems.

Meditation states have also shown that during periods of physical and mental rest, we allow the mind to quieten down, and during this period of deep mental and physical rest our minds can recover and process our feelings and issues. The more we are able to find ways to do this, the less stress we carry with us during our waking day. This in turn frees the mind to have a more effective, deeper and restorative sleep.

Here is a list of different ways in which we can allow our mind that vital time to relax from our worried state.

  • Read a book or a magazine, even if it’s only for a few minutes. This can allow your mind to escape your worries for a short time.
  • Run yourself a bath, watch a film, play with a pet or try out a new recipe. All great and enjoyable methods to focus on something other than your worries.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out. Count as you breathe. Start by counting ‘one, two, three, four’ as you breathe in and ‘one, two, three, four’ as you breathe out. Try to work out what’s comfortable for you.

Breathing in this way gives our mind a focus and allows us to begin to take control of our own mind. One of the methods that we can learn that teaches us to calm and relax our mind is Mindfulness. You can find a qualified teacher. This has been proven to improve anxiety or depression.

  • Take a walk in the countryside or through a local park, taking time to notice trees, flowers, plants and animals you see on the way.
  • Spend some time taking part in conservation, whether that’s digging in your own garden or taking part in a local green project. You can find projects and outdoor activities to suit whatever level of mobility you have.
  • Look for a local Hypnotherapist that offers mental relaxation classes or sessions.
  • Look for a class you’d like to try, such as yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching. These activities help focus the mind and body allow us to restore a balance to our thinking.
  • Try painting, drawing, making crafts, playing a musical instrument, dancing, baking or sewing.
  • Listen to your favourite songs. Turn up the volume and dance or sing along or put your headphones on and close your eyes, really listen to the music. Can you pick out different instruments? Can you hear a drum beat or a certain rhythm? Focus on the music, and let other thoughts fade away.
  • Think of somewhere relaxing and peaceful. You might choose a memory of somewhere you’ve been, or a place you have imagined.

If we consider that we are more productive as people when we are relaxed and in a calm and creative mindset. It should therefore naturally follow that if we allow ourselves the freedom to ensure we make the time and effort to relax and invest in our own long-term wellbeing, then this is a priceless gift to ourselves.